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  • Elijah Ricks

Seeing Green

Updated: Mar 22

Last Sunday was Pi day, and so to celebrate, Avey and Hakan whipped up a chocolate pie with graham cracker crust. Hakan channeled his rage into smashing up the graham crackers, and then Avey did the rest. If only we'd thought about getting some whipped cream the day before, it would have been perfect, but we still enjoyed it - Hakan even had two helpings.

Hakan's Valentine's Day Artwork

We took a walk in the afternoon, but all got split up because Apollo likes to go one way, the older two boys wanted to go their own way, and Merritt can't imagine doing anything outside of his normal route. Luckily, we all had walkie talkies, and Hannah kept with Merritt while I kept with Apollo.


Hannah then took Apollo to a play date and then hung out at her place before bringing him back home. We had family night, and the kids wanted to play Come Here Little Mice in the backyard. It was very cold by then, so that was rough, but they of course can tolerate just about anything except going to bed. In fact, bedtime was pretty rough after the stupid time change.


Monday was Avey's friend's birthday, so she thought to ask her what she'd like, and she requested McDonald's for breakfast. Avey arranged to meet her with her food in the cafeteria before school started, so I got up to get the boys started on breakfast, and then took Avey to pick up the food and drop her off a little early. We got there a little later than I had hoped, but it was still a successful venture.


The day was pretty standard otherwise - I did my work while Kira kept up with her calling and Merritt. She then left to visit a bedridden sister in the branch, and then went to her office for her evening clients. As soon as the boys got home on the bus, I suggested to Hakan that we just knock out his homework, and to my surprise, he took me up on it. He then enjoyed the rest of the afternoon with no obligations. What would that be like?


That night, Merritt wanted to read a brief version of Pinocchio, and so we did, and then I tried to explain the metaphor to Hakan and him: We are born with not much independence, sort of like a puppet who can't really think for himself and act on his own, but then, if we face the dangers of the world with bravery, we become "real boys," who can think and act competently. They seemed interested in trying to really grasp it, and so we had a nice talk about it for a few minutes. Of course, the next day, Merritt was very scared of the book, and didn't even want it in his room while he slept because of "magic." We still haven't quite figured out what's distressing him, but we think he didn't like how the blue fairly changed Pinocchio into a real boy. You would think he'd be more freaked out by how he almost turned into a donkey, but here we are.


Tuesday I awoke to find that our stimulus money had come. I figured that because most of it was on behalf of the kids, I should spend a good chunk of it on them, so I had been thinking of getting them a playset for the backyard. I liked one that they usually have in stock at Costco, but of course they were all sold out. I thought about it and kept looking for a couple of days, and then finally bought one that was a bit of an upgrade from that first one. It's supposed to arrive in two weeks, so I hope to get most of it built during my spring break. I'm glad I got it when I did, because I checked it for more information the next day and it was sold out, too!


Because Avey's a bit too old and tall for the playset, we talked it over with her and bought her a brand new phone and got her an actual plan on it. Now she can keep in touch with us when she goes on her bike rides exploring, and we expect she'll do more of that the nicer the weather gets.


Avey had already gone on the bus Tuesday morning. She wanted to check out a meeting for girls' track. She's decided to join now, so we'll get her a physical during this week so that she's ready.


I went on a bike ride and walk with Avey and the younger boys, and we decided to do Culver's for dinner, because there was a fundraiser for the elementary school. We invited Hannah to come along, and then picked her up on the way. Merritt fully refused to go, so Kira stayed home and we brought her some frozen custard.


Wednesday was remote learning, and so I slept in a bit and then got up to start the kids on their food and tasks. I was surprised to find Hakan already dressed for the day, but when I asked him he said it was for St. Patrick's Day. Oh yeah. He was totally into it - even having me color his milk and ranch dressing (for spinach leaves) green. The other boys followed suit at the next meal - coloring yogurt, and even applesauce.

I worked like usual, and Kira kept the kids as focused as possible on their remote learning. I took Avey to a store in the afternoon, although I didn't plan it very well and we had about 10 minutes at the store before needing to dash back and drop her off with Hannah so that they could go to a youth activity (watching a broadcast). I then came home to bake Carver some gluten free brownies, and we did the normal nightly routine.

Thursday was nothing unusual - Avey took the bus, so I got to sleep in a little more than usual, and then had my very long day in the city.


Friday, Kira let me miss breakfast, as I was wiped out from the day before. I made it downstairs just in time to say goodbye to the boys leaving for the bus. I had a work meeting, but wanted to take it easy otherwise. Kira had planned on taking Merritt to some stores in the afternoon, but it worked out so that it would be best to keep him home, so I fed him and then we read library books while Kira did a meeting and ran errands. I had wanted to get into the backyard to start planning out where to put the playset, but Merritt wanted a playmate, so I stuck with him until his brothers were home. I found the spot I figured was best for the playset, but our entire backyard is sloped, so no matter where we put it I knew I would have to level off the ground. I did my measurements and then used some string to mark where we'd need to level it, and I started digging just a bit. Once the older boys found out about the playset, and the chance to dig, they were completely on board, and helped me get some of the dirt laid.

Carver was excited to hear the news that he was accepted into the robotics club at his school, so he's looking forward to that. Avey came home with good news, too: she had aced both her math and science tests (missing only one question between the both of them)!


Because it was the last day of school, and this next one is spring break, and with the news of the playset, the boys were rabid with excitement. We let them stay up an extra hour before going to bed.


We grownups slept in on Saturday, and I got breakfast nearly done before Kira let me head out to my favorite hardware store for supplies to keep working on the playset plot. I bought bricks for a retaining wall, and everybody helped me unload them back at the house, although they are about 17 lbs. each, so Merritt's job was keeping track of Apollo, and Hakan wore himself out carrying one at a time. They then worked on various other tasks while I laid each brick and carefully leveled them until I ran out of material.

I worked on that until about 4:30, and the kids were there off and on as their interest dictated. Kira took Avey and Hakan on an outing to some stores and Carver entertained Merritt and was also a huge help to me, bringing the bricks over to me as I laid them. It was my first retaining wall, and I'm very pleased with it so far, although I need another 20 bricks or so to finish off the north side. We then need to move some of the north dirt to the south side to level it off. My plan is to fill it with about 6 inches of mulch next weekend to get it nice and level before the playset kit arrives.


I had a meeting that night for a virtual conference. I usually attend in person, but the pandemic shut it down this year, so they tried everything online. I had two graduate students involved, and we were supposed to be there to discuss the research we were presenting in the poster session. I got into the meeting with no problem, but my graduate students never did figure out how to get there. I gave up pretty quickly, as I didn't want to be there in the first place. I was very hungry after working on the bricks all day, and so I ran to a restaurant after getting dinner started for the boys.


We had an evening of TV with Hannah over, and the ladies all packed Easter eggs with candy to drop off at the church the next day.


Today is Apollo's birthday - he's three now. So I took him on a nice long walk this morning, and then he went on a play date with his dog friend while I took the boys to a park. We've got a little chew toy for him that we'll give him later, and I'm sure we'll all give him some extra belly rubs this evening.


I've got a normal work week coming, but Kira's working on some plans for spring break, so they may go do some cool stuff. I'll do my best to join them, and we'll let you know what happens!

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